If you look to the right, I have an ever-growing list of what I like to call my "Design Mantras," things I find myself saying often to clients...or to anyone nearby! And #4 deals with a subject I covered in a past post here called "Lighting Basics: How To Illuminate A Space."
For a successfully illuminated room, there are three basic layers of light: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient light generally means a light that will blanket a space, brightening the room. This layer includes recessed ceiling lights placed so that a room receives an even wash of light.
For the remaining two layers, task and accent, sconces can be a marvelously versatile lighting fixture. When used in a bathroom, and placed so the lighting source falls evenly at face level, they can function as task lighting, illuminating your face and eliminating shadows so tasks light applying make-up and shaving are made much easier. I am always irked when, for example, I'm staying at a hotel, and the bathroom only has an overhead light so that my brow, nose, and jaw cast heavy shadows on my face and neck! And a simple, well-placed sconce can erase those shadows.
I love to use sconces for that reason. Take a look at some bathrooms I've designed which incorporate the versatile and decorative sconce:
For maximum impact both in terms of light and style, I often like to use a very large scale mirror in a bathroom and mount the sconce on the surface, doubling the amount of light!
Sconces can be excellent task lighting for the bedside. Because there is no need for the foot of a table lamp to take up valuable real estate, a wall mounted fixture allows the entire surface of a night table to be used.
Sconces on a fireplace breast add an extra, alluring layer of glow and warmth!
And dinner parties in well-appointed dining rooms always benefit from an additional source of sparkling, accent light...
And most importantly, remember to put all of your lights on dimmers for flexibility.